We know that we’ve been showcasing different coffees from Guatemala for the past few months. We’ve had coffees from Acatenango, Antigua, and Huehuetenango, all different provinces/regions in Guatemala. What I hope you’ve all learned so far is that a “Guatemala” is not a “Guatemala.” You can’t just cookie-cutter one generalization of a country’s coffee flavor, and we hope to highlight that again with a coffee from a region you probably haven’t heard of before: Fraijanes.
So, why, Fraijanes? This region is found East of the capital Guatemala City. This region has altitudes that meet or match those in Antigua and Huehue but has a vastly different climate. When traveling over to this area, you are driving through roads and terrain that remind you more of mountainous Washington or Colorado: pine trees, sharp hills, rainy weather, and intense winds. This microclimate tends to yield coffees that are rich and bright in acidity (versus those from Antigua, which tend to have slightly more body and more of a round and balanced acidity).
Coffee cherries collected from a day of harvesting. (Photo credit to El Niagara)
Such is the case with this coffee, which comes from a farm named Finca El Niagara. Due to a combination of the variable cold temperatures and adequate rain, along with nutrient-rich soil from both the mountainsides and nearby volcano (Pacaya), coffee from this farm boasts of rich, fruity sweetness and bright acidity. The lot is composed of a mix of Caturra/Catuai, which tend to yield a round, nutty, and approachable cup character and “Catasik,” the name they give to their “elite” bourbon plants. This hit of bourbon boosts the acidity and makes the cup profile vibrant and fruity. Once picked, the lot underwent a typical Guatemala wash process and was dried on patios. The coffee was then delivered to our friends at San Miguel Coffee, who did an added layer of quality control and dry processing, sorting out defective beans and milling to a precise spec.
Pulped coffee drying on a patio at El Niagara. (Photo credit to El Niagara)
In the cup, you’ll get a mix of fruity and sweet notes. You’ll notice a lush caramel and nutty body that transforms into a ripe berry mouthfeel. As the cup cools, you’ll start to see more berry and citrus-like acidities appear, reminiscent of berry jam and tangerine.